The plank is the ultimate full-body pose for toning your entire muscular system, including abs, back, legs, arms, and glutes. It also helps improve your posture and stability making other exercises easier and more effective. Looking for another reason to plank? It’s incredibly versatile—you can modify it for your personal requirements by adding extra movement and elevate your heart rate even faster.
Get it right
Each week, start with the first challenge and repeat until you have mastered it. Then proceed to the next one. Practice at your own pace and match your skill levels, but be sure to engage in at least some work each day so you can complete the progression by week end.
Here’s a great schedule that will get you the results you want.
Fix your form:
With planks, your form either makes or breaks the exercise
says New York City celebrity trainer David Kirsch. As a rule your body should form a straight line from head to heels.
Begin by standing: Stand up straight, feet hip-width apart. Now have someone try to gently knock you off balance. Pay attention to the muscles you need to engage to stay centred:
That’s exactly how you should feel when you’re in plank
says well known trainer Jonathan Ross, a senior adviser to the American Council on Exercise.
Perfect your position: Lying on your stomach, plant your forearms firmly directly under your shoulders. Come to your toes and squeeze your glutes. Hold that pose for between 5 and 10 seconds.
Start the timer: Hold your plank for 20 to 30 seconds or longer. If you need to take a breather then lower your knees to the floor for a few seconds.
Boost your endurance: If you feel any shoulder or lower back pain as you start to hold your static plank for longer, or if your behind creeps upwards, stop and restart.
Master 30: Hold your plank for 30 seconds without resting.
Add 15: Hold your 30 second plank, then rest in a Downward Dog position for 5 seconds, suggests Kirsch. Return to plank position and hold for another 15 seconds or more.
Hit the minute mark: Hold a 45 second plank, followed by a Downward Dog and another 15 to 30 second plank.
Go for 90: Hold your plank for at least 1 minute. Rest in Downward Dog if you need to, then hold another 30 second plank.
Power it up: Get used to the following variations individually (do each for 1 minute). Then stack them one after another, aiming to eventually finish all three back-to-back.
Move the centre of mass: From a forearm plank, drop your right hip so your right thigh just touches the floor. Return to the starting position and drop your left hip. Then Repeat.
Test your balance point: Extend your right arm straight out in front of you, parallel to the floor, without disturbing your form. Return to centre, then extend your left arm. Repeat with your right and left legs.
Change the levels: Start in a plank on your forearms. Press up onto your right hand, then your left, so you come into a high plank position. Return to your right forearm, then your left. Repeat the pattern, alternating the starting arm. Continue until you reach your goal.